Year of Faith Catechism Study: CCC 2150-2155, 2163-2164 – Taking the Name of the Lord in Vain

clock June 27, 2013 01:02 by author John |

Today’s Catechism sections discuss the taking of the Name of the Lord in vain, particularly false oaths and perjury. Supporting material comes from the letters of St. Augustine.

II. Taking the Name of the Lord in Vain

2150 The second commandment forbids false oaths. Taking an oath or swearing is to take God as witness to what one affirms. It is to invoke the divine truthfulness as a pledge of one's own truthfulness. An oath engages the Lord's name. "You shall fear the LORD your God; you shall serve him, and swear by his name."81

2151 Rejection of false oaths is a duty toward God. As Creator and Lord, God is the norm of all truth. Human speech is either in accord with or in opposition to God who is Truth itself. When it is truthful and legitimate, an oath highlights the relationship of human speech with God's truth. A false oath calls on God to be witness to a lie.

2152 A person commits perjury when he makes a promise under oath with no intention of keeping it, or when after promising on oath he does not keep it. Perjury is a grave lack of respect for the Lord of all speech. Pledging oneself by oath to commit an evil deed is contrary to the holiness of the divine name.

2153 In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus explained the second commandment: "You have heard that it was said to the men of old, 'You shall not swear falsely, but shall perform to the Lord what you have sworn.' But I say to you, Do not swear at all.... Let what you say be simply 'Yes' or 'No'; anything more than this comes from the evil one."82 Jesus teaches that every oath involves a reference to God and that God's presence and his truth must be honored in all speech. Discretion in calling upon God is allied with a respectful awareness of his presence, which all our assertions either witness to or mock.

2154 Following St. Paul,83 The tradition of the Church has understood Jesus' words as not excluding oaths made for grave and right reasons (for example, in court). "An oath, that is the invocation of the divine name as a witness to truth, cannot be taken unless in truth, in judgment, and in justice."84

2155 The holiness of the divine name demands that we neither use it for trivial matters, nor take an oath which on the basis of the circumstances could be interpreted as approval of an authority unjustly requiring it. When an oath is required by illegitimate civil authorities, it may be refused. It must be refused when it is required for purposes contrary to the dignity of persons or to ecclesial communion.

IN BRIEF

2163 False oaths call on God to be witness to a lie. Perjury is a grave offence against the Lord who is always faithful to his promises.

2164 "Do not swear whether by the Creator, or any creature, except truthfully, of necessity, and with reverence" (St. Ignatius of Loyola, Spiritual Exercises, 38).

St. Augustine discusses oaths in “Letter 47” to “Publicola”.

2. One of your doubts is as to using the services of a man who has guaranteed his fidelity by swearing by his false gods. In this matter I beg you to consider whether, in the event of a man failing to keep his word after having pledged himself by such an oath, you would not regard him as guilty of a twofold sin. For if he kept the engagement which he had confirmed by this oath, he would be pronounced guilty in this only, that he swore by such deities; but no one would justly blame him for keeping his engagement. But in the case supposed, seeing that he both swore by those whom he should not worship, and did, notwithstanding his promise, what he should not have done, he was guilty of two sins: whence it is obvious that in using, not for an evil work, but for some good and lawful end, the service of a man whose fidelity is known to have been confirmed by an oath in the name of false gods, one participates, not in the sin of swearing by the false gods, but in the good faith with which he keeps his promise. The faith which I here speak of as kept is not that on account of which those who are baptized in Christ are called faithful: that is entirely different and far removed from the faith desiderated in regard to the arrangements and compacts of men. Nevertheless it is, beyond all doubt, worse to swear falsely by the true God than to swear truly by the false gods; for the greater the holiness of that by which we swear, the greater is the sin of perjury. It is therefore a different question whether he is not guilty who requires another to pledge himself by taking an oath in the name of his gods, seeing that he worships false gods. In answering this question, we may accept as decisive those examples which you yourself quoted of Laban and of Abimelech (if Abimelech did swear by his gods, as Laban swore by the god of Nahor). This is, as I have said, another question, and one which would perchance perplex me, were it not for those examples of Isaac and Jacob, to which, for anything I know, others might be added. It may be that some scruple might yet be suggested by the precept in the New Testament, Swear not at all; Matthew 5:34, 36 words which were in my opinion spoken, not because it is a sin to swear a true oath, but because it is a heinous sin to forswear oneself: from which crime our Lord would have us keep at a great distance, when He charged us not to swear at all. I know, however, that our opinion is different: wherefore it should not be discussed at present; let us rather treat of that about which you have thought of asking my advice. On the same ground on which you forbear from swearing yourself, you may, if such be your opinion, regard it as forbidden to exact an oath from another, although it is expressly said, Swear not; but I do not remember reading anywhere in Holy Scripture that we are not to take another's oath.

Footnotes

81 ⇒ Deut 6:13.
82 ⇒ Mt 5:33-34, ⇒ 37; Cf. ⇒ Jas 5:12.
83 Cf. ⇒ 2 Cor 1:23; ⇒ Gal 1:20.
84 ⇒ CIC, can. 1199 # 1.



Year of Faith Catechism Study: CCC 2142-2149, 2160-2162 – The Name of the Lord

clock June 26, 2013 19:31 by author John |

Today’s Catechism sections discuss the second commandment. Supporting material comes from the “Summa Theologica”.

Article 2

THE SECOND COMMANDMENT

You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.72

You have heard that it was said to the men of old, "You shall not swear falsely. . But I say to you, Do not swear at all.73

I. The Name of the Lord is Holy

2142 The second commandment prescribes respect for the Lord's name. Like the first commandment, it belongs to the virtue of religion and more particularly it governs our use of speech in sacred matters.

2143 Among all the words of Revelation, there is one which is unique: the revealed name of God. God confides his name to those who believe in him; he reveals himself to them in his personal mystery. The gift of a name belongs to the order of trust and intimacy. "The Lord's name is holy." For this reason man must not abuse it. He must keep it in mind in silent, loving adoration. He will not introduce it into his own speech except to bless, praise, and glorify it.74

2144 Respect for his name is an expression of the respect owed to the mystery of God himself and to the whole sacred reality it evokes. The sense of the sacred is part of the virtue of religion:

Are these feelings of fear and awe Christian feelings or not? . . . I say this, then, which I think no one can reasonably dispute. They are the class of feelings we should have - yes, have to an intense degree - if we literally had the sight of Almighty God; therefore they are the class of feelings which we shall have, if we realize His presence. In proportion as we believe that He is present, we shall have them; and not to have them, is not to realize, not to believe that He is present.75

2145 The faithful should bear witness to the Lord's name by confessing the faith without giving way to fear.76 Preaching and catechizing should be permeated with adoration and respect for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

2146 The second commandment forbids the abuse of God's name, i.e., every improper use of the names of God, Jesus Christ, but also of the Virgin Mary and all the saints.

2147 Promises made to others in God's name engage the divine honor, fidelity, truthfulness, and authority. They must be respected in justice. To be unfaithful to them is to misuse God's name and in some way to make God out to be a liar.77

2148 Blasphemy is directly opposed to the second commandment. It consists in uttering against God - inwardly or outwardly - words of hatred, reproach, or defiance; in speaking ill of God; in failing in respect toward him in one's speech; in misusing God's name. St. James condemns those "who blaspheme that honorable name [of Jesus] by which you are called."78 The prohibition of blasphemy extends to language against Christ's Church, the saints, and sacred things. It is also blasphemous to make use of God's name to cover up criminal practices, to reduce peoples to servitude, to torture persons or put them to death. The misuse of God's name to commit a crime can provoke others to repudiate religion.
Blasphemy is contrary to the respect due God and his holy name. It is in itself a grave sin.79

2149 Oaths which misuse God's name, though without the intention of blasphemy, show lack of respect for the Lord. The second commandment also forbids magical use of the divine name.

[God's] name is great when spoken with respect for the greatness of his majesty. God's name is holy when said with veneration and fear of offending him.80

IN BRIEF

2160 "O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth" (⇒ Ps 8:1)!

2161 The second commandment enjoins respect for the Lord's name. The name of the Lord is holy.

2162 The second commandment forbids every improper use of God's name. Blasphemy is the use of the name of God, of Jesus Christ, of the Virgin Mary, and of the saints in an offensive way.

In the “Summa Theologica” (Secunda Secundæ Partis, 13 , 2), St. Thomas Aquinas discusses the sin of blasphemy.

Article 2. Whether blasphemy is always a mortal sin?

Objection 1. It would seem that blasphemy is not always a mortal sin. Because a gloss on the words, "Now lay you also all away," etc. (Colossians 3:8) says: "After prohibiting greater crimes he forbids lesser sins": and yet among the latter he includes blasphemy. Therefore blasphemy is comprised among the lesser, i.e. venial, sins.

Objection 2. Further, every mortal sin is opposed to one of the precepts of the Decalogue. But, seemingly, blasphemy is not contrary to any of them. Therefore blasphemy is not a mortal sin.

Objection 3. Further, sins committed without deliberation, are not mortal: hence first movements are not mortal sins, because they precede the deliberation of the reason, as was shown above (I-II, 74, 3,10). Now blasphemy sometimes occurs without deliberation of the reason. Therefore it is not always a mortal sin.

On the contrary, It is written (Leviticus 24:16): "He that blasphemeth the name of the Lord, dying let him die." Now the death punishment is not inflicted except for a mortal sin. Therefore blasphemy is a mortal sin.

I answer that, As stated above (I-II, 72, 5), a mortal sin is one whereby a man is severed from the first principle of spiritual life, which principle is the charity of God. Therefore whatever things are contrary to charity, are mortal sins in respect of their genus. Now blasphemy, as to its genus, is opposed to Divine charity, because, as stated above (Article 1), it disparages the Divine goodness, which is the object of charity. Consequently blasphemy is a mortal sin, by reason of its genus.

Reply to Objection 1. This gloss is not to be understood as meaning that all the sins which follow, are mortal, but that whereas all those mentioned previously are more grievous sins, some of those mentioned afterwards are less grievous; and yet among the latter some more grievous sins are included.

Reply to Objection 2. Since, as stated above (Article 1), blasphemy is contrary to the confession of faith, its prohibition is comprised under the prohibition of unbelief, expressed by the words: "I am the Lord thy God," etc. (Exodus 20:1). Or else, it is forbidden by the words: "Thou shalt not take the name of . . . God in vain" (Exodus 20:7). Because he who asserts something false about God, takes His name in vain even more than he who uses the name of God in confirmation of a falsehood.

Reply to Objection 3. There are two ways in which blasphemy may occur unawares and without deliberation. On the first way, by a man failing to advert to the blasphemous nature of his words, and this may happen through his being moved suddenly by passion so as to break out into words suggested by his imagination, without heeding to the meaning of those words: this is a venial sin, and is not a blasphemy properly so called. On the second way, by adverting to the meaning of his words, and to their blasphemous nature: in which case he is not excused from mortal sin, even as neither is he who, in a sudden movement of anger, kills one who is sitting beside him.

Footnotes

72 ⇒ Ex 20:7; ⇒ Deut 5:11.
73 ⇒ Mt 5:33-34.
74 Cf. ⇒ Zech 2:13; ⇒ Ps 29:2; ⇒ 96:2; ⇒ 113:1-2.
75 John Henry Cardinal Newman, Parochial and Plain Sermons V, 2 (London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1907) 21-22.
76 Cf. ⇒ Mt 10:32; ⇒ 1 Tim 6:12.
77 Cf. 1 ⇒ Jn 1:10.
78 ⇒ Jas 2:7.
79 Cf. ⇒ CIC, can. 1369.
80 St. Augustine, De serm. Dom. in monte 2, 5, 19: PL 34, 1278.



Year of Faith Catechism Study: CCC 2129-2132, 2141 – Idolatry and Veneration of Images

clock June 25, 2013 01:02 by author John |

Today’s Catechism sections discuss idolatry and the veneration of images. Supporting material comes from Tertullian’s “On Idolatry”.

IV. "You Shall Not Make For Yourself a Graven Image . . ."

2129 The divine injunction included the prohibition of every representation of God by the hand of man. Deuteronomy explains: "Since you saw no form on the day that the Lord spoke to you at Horeb out of the midst of the fire, beware lest you act corruptly by making a graven image for yourselves, in the form of any figure...."66 It is the absolutely transcendent God who revealed himself to Israel. "He is the all," but at the same time "he is greater than all his works."67 He is "the author of beauty."68

2130 Nevertheless, already in the Old Testament, God ordained or permitted the making of images that pointed symbolically toward salvation by the incarnate Word: so it was with the bronze serpent, the ark of the covenant, and the cherubim.69

2131 Basing itself on the mystery of the incarnate Word, the seventh ecumenical council at Nicaea (787) justified against the iconoclasts the veneration of icons - of Christ, but also of the Mother of God, the angels, and all the saints. By becoming incarnate, the Son of God introduced a new "economy" of images.

2132 The Christian veneration of images is not contrary to the first commandment which proscribes idols. Indeed, "the honor rendered to an image passes to its prototype," and "whoever venerates an image venerates the person portrayed in it."70 The honor paid to sacred images is a "respectful veneration," not the adoration due to God alone:

Religious worship is not directed to images in themselves, considered as mere things, but under their distinctive aspect as images leading us on to God incarnate. The movement toward the image does not terminate in it as image, but tends toward that whose image it is.71

IN BRIEF

2141 The veneration of sacred images is based on the mystery of the Incarnation of the Word of God. It is not contrary to the first commandment.

The following comes from Tertullian’s “On Idolatry.

Chapter 2. Idolatry in Its More Limited Sense. Its Copiousness

But let the universal names of crimes withdraw to the specialities of their own works; let idolatry remain in that which it is itself. Sufficient to itself is a name so inimical to God, a substance of crime so copious, which reaches forth so many branches, diffuses so many veins, that from this name, for the greatest part, is drawn the material of all the modes in which the expansiveness of idolatry has to be foreguarded against by us, since in manifold wise it subverts the servants of God; and this not only when unperceived, but also when cloaked over. Most men simply regard idolatry as to be interpreted in these senses alone, viz.: if one burn incense, or immolate a victim, or give a sacrificial banquet, or be bound to some sacred functions or priesthoods; just as if one were to regard adultery as to be accounted in kisses, and in embraces, and in actual fleshly contact; or murder as to be reckoned only in the shedding forth of blood, and in the actual taking away of life. But how far wider an extent the Lord assigns to those crimes we are sure: when He defines adultery to consist even in concupiscence, Matthew 5:28if one shall have cast an eye lustfully on, and stirred his soul with immodest commotion; when He judges murder Matthew 5:22 to consist even in a word of curseor of reproach, and in every impulse of anger, and in the neglect of charity toward a brother just as John teaches, 1 John 3:15 that he who hates his brother is a murderer. Else, both the devil's ingenuity in malice, and God the Lord's in the Discipline by which He fortifies us against the devil's depths, Revelation 2:24 would have but limited scope, if we were judged only in such faults as even the heathen nations have decreed punishable. How will our righteousness abound above that of the Scribes and Pharisees, as the Lord has prescribed, Matthew 5:20 unless we shall have seen through the abundance of that adversary quality, that is, of unrighteousness? But if the head of unrighteousness is idolatry, the first point is, that we be fore-fortified against the abundance of idolatry, while we recognise it not only in its palpable manifestations.

Footnotes

66 Deut 4:15-16.
67 ⇒ Sir 43:27-28.
68 ⇒ Wis 13:3.
69 Cf. ⇒ Num 21:4-9; ⇒ Wis 16:5-14; ⇒ Jn 3:14-15; ⇒ Ex 25:10-22; ⇒ 1 Kings 6:23-28; ⇒ 7:23-26.
70 St. Basil, De Spiritu Sancto 18, 45: PG 32, 149C; Council of Nicaea II: DS 601; cf. Council of Trent: DS 1821-1825; Vatican Council II: SC 126; LG 67.
71 St. Thomas Aquinas, STh II-II, 81, 3 ad 3.



Year of Faith Catechism Study: CCC 2123-2128, 2140 – Atheism and Agnosticism

clock June 24, 2013 01:02 by author John |

Today’s Catechism sections discuss atheism and Agnosticism. Supporting material comes from the Pastoral Constitution “Gaudium et Spes”.

Atheism

2123 "Many . . . of our contemporaries either do not at all perceive, or explicitly reject, this intimate and vital bond of man to God. Atheism must therefore be regarded as one of the most serious problems of our time."58

2124 The name "atheism" covers many very different phenomena. One common form is the practical materialism which restricts its needs and aspirations to space and time. Atheistic humanism falsely considers man to be "an end to himself, and the sole maker, with supreme control, of his own history."59 Another form of contemporary atheism looks for the liberation of man through economic and social liberation. "It holds that religion, of its very nature, thwarts such emancipation by raising man's hopes in a future life, thus both deceiving him and discouraging him from working for a better form of life on earth."60

2125 Since it rejects or denies the existence of God, atheism is a sin against the virtue of religion.61 The imputability of this offense can be significantly diminished in virtue of the intentions and the circumstances. "Believers can have more than a little to do with the rise of atheism. To the extent that they are careless about their instruction in the faith, or present its teaching falsely, or even fail in their religious, moral, or social life, they must be said to conceal rather than to reveal the true nature of God and of religion."62

2126 Atheism is often based on a false conception of human autonomy, exaggerated to the point of refusing any dependence on God.63 Yet, "to acknowledge God is in no way to oppose the dignity of man, since such dignity is grounded and brought to perfection in God...."64 "For the Church knows full well that her message is in harmony with the most secret desires of the human heart."65

Agnosticism

2127 Agnosticism assumes a number of forms. In certain cases the agnostic refrains from denying God; instead he postulates the existence of a transcendent being which is incapable of revealing itself, and about which nothing can be said. In other cases, the agnostic makes no judgment about God's existence, declaring it impossible to prove, or even to affirm or deny.

2128 Agnosticism can sometimes include a certain search for God, but it can equally express indifferentism, a flight from the ultimate question of existence, and a sluggish moral conscience. Agnosticism is all too often equivalent to practical atheism.

IN BRIEF

2140 Since it rejects or denies the existence of God, atheism is a sin against the first commandment.

The Pastoral Constitution, “Gaudium et Spes” discusses atheism.

20. Modern atheism often takes on a systematic expression which, in addition to other causes, stretches the desires for human independence to such a point that it poses difficulties against any kind of dependence on God. Those who profess atheism of this sort maintain that it gives man freedom to be an end unto himself, the sole artisan and creator of his own history. They claim that this freedom cannot be reconciled with the affirmation of a Lord Who is author and purpose of all things, or at least that this freedom makes such an affirmation altogether superfluous. Favoring this doctrine can be the sense of power which modern technical progress generates in man.

Not to be overlooked among the forms of modern atheism is that which anticipates the liberation of man especially through his economic and social emancipation. This form argues that by its nature religion thwarts this liberation by arousing man's hope for a deceptive future life, thereby diverting him from the constructing of the earthly city. Consequently when the proponents of this doctrine gain governmental power they vigorously fight against religion, and promote atheism by using, especially in the education of youth, those means of pressure which public power has at its disposal.

Footnotes

58 GS 19 # 1.
59 GS 20 # 2.
60 GS 20 # 2.
61 Cf. ⇒ Rom 1:18.
62 GS 19 # 3.
63 Cf. GS 20 # 1.
64 GS 21 # 3.
65 GS 21 # 7.



Year of Faith Catechism Study: CCC 2118-2122, 2139 – Irreligion

clock June 23, 2013 01:03 by author John |

Today’s Catechism sections discuss irreligion. Supporting material comes from the “Summa Theologica”.

Irreligion

2118 God's first commandment condemns the main sins of irreligion: tempting God, in words or deeds, sacrilege, and simony.

2119 Tempting God consists in putting his goodness and almighty power to the test by word or deed. Thus Satan tried to induce Jesus to throw himself down from the Temple and, by this gesture, force God to act.49 Jesus opposed Satan with the word of God: "You shall not put the LORD your God to the test." 50 The challenge contained in such tempting of God wounds the respect and trust we owe our Creator and Lord. It always harbors doubt about his love, his providence, and his power.51

2120 Sacrilege consists in profaning or treating unworthily the sacraments and other liturgical actions, as well as persons, things, or places consecrated to God. Sacrilege is a grave sin especially when committed against the Eucharist, for in this sacrament the true Body of Christ is made substantially present for us.52

2121 Simony is defined as the buying or selling of spiritual things.53 To Simon the magician, who wanted to buy the spiritual power he saw at work in the apostles, St. Peter responded: "Your silver perish with you, because you thought you could obtain God's gift with money!"54 Peter thus held to the words of Jesus: "You received without pay, give without pay."55 It is impossible to appropriate to oneself spiritual goods and behave toward them as their owner or master, for they have their source in God. One can receive them only from him, without payment.

2122 The minister should ask nothing for the administration of the sacraments beyond the offerings defined by the competent authority, always being careful that the needy are not deprived of the help of the sacraments because of their poverty."56 The competent authority determines these "offerings" in accordance with the principle that the Christian people ought to contribute to the support of the Church's ministers. "The laborer deserves his food."57

IN BRIEF

2139 Tempting God in words or deeds, sacrilege, and simony are sins of irreligion forbidden by the first commandment.

In the “Summa Theologica” (Secunda Secundæ Partis, 100, 3), St. Thomas Aquinas discusses simony.

Article 3. Whether it is lawful to give and receive money for spiritual actions?

Objection 1. It seems that it is lawful to give and receive money for spiritual actions. The use of prophecy is a spiritual action. But something used to be given of old for the use of prophecy, as appears from 1 Samuel 9:7-8, and 1 Kings 14:3. Therefore it would seem that it is lawful to give and receive money for a spiritual action.

Objection 2. Further, prayer, preaching, divine praise, are most spiritual actions. Now money is given to holy persons in order to obtain the assistance of their prayers, according to Luke 16:9, "Make unto you friends of the mammon of iniquity." To preachers also, who sow spiritual things, temporal things are due according to the Apostle (1 Corinthians 9:14). Moreover, something is given to those who celebrate the divine praises in the ecclesiastical office, and make processions: and sometimes an annual income is assigned to them. Therefore it is lawful to receive something for spiritual actions.

Objection 3. Further, science is no less spiritual than power. Now it is lawful to receive money for the use of science: thus a lawyer may sell his just advocacy, a physician his advice for health, and a master the exercise of his teaching. Therefore in like manner it would seem lawful for a prelate to receive something for the use of his spiritual power, for instance, for correction, dispensation, and so forth.

Objection 4. Further, religion is the state of spiritual perfection. Now in certain monasteries something is demanded from those who are received there. Therefore it is lawful to demand something for spiritual things.

On the contrary, It is stated (I, qu. i [Can. Quidquid invisibilis]): "It is absolutely forbidden to make a charge for what is acquired by the consolation of invisible grace, whether by demanding a price or by seeking any kind of return whatever." Now all these spiritual things are acquired through an invisible grace. Therefore it is not lawful to charge a price or return for them.

I answer that, Just as the sacraments are called spiritual, because they confer a spiritual grace, so, too, certain other things are called spiritual, because they flow from spiritual grace and dispose thereto. And yet these things are obtainable through the ministry of men, according to 1 Corinthians 9:7, "Who serveth as a soldier at any time at his own charges? Who feedeth the flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock?" Hence it is simoniacal to sell or buy that which is spiritual in such like actions; but to receive or give something for the support of those who minister spiritual things in accordance with the statutes of the Church and approved customs is lawful, yet in such wise that there be no intention of buying or selling, and that no pressure be brought to bear on those who are unwilling to give, by withholding spiritual things that ought to be administered, for then there would be an appearance of simony. But after the spiritual things have been freely bestowed, then the statutory and customary offerings and other dues may be exacted from those who are unwilling but able to pay, if the superior authorize this to be done.

Reply to Objection 1. As Jerome says in his commentary on Micah 3:9, certain gifts were freely offered to the good prophets, for their livelihood, but not as a price for the exercise of their gift of prophecy. Wicked prophets, however, abused this exercise by demanding payment for it.

Reply to Objection 2. Those who give alms to the poor in order to obtain from them the assistance of their prayers do not give with the intent of buying their prayers; but by their gratuitous beneficence inspire the poor with the mind to pray for them freely and out of charity. Temporal things are due to the preacher as means for his support, not as a price of the words he preaches. Hence a gloss on 1 Timothy 5:11, "Let the priests that rule well," says: "Their need allows them to receive the wherewithal to live, charity demands that this should be given to them: yet the Gospel is not for sale, nor is a livelihood the object of preaching: for if they sell it for this purpose, they sell a great thing for a contemptible price." On like manner temporal things are given to those who praise God by celebrating the divine office whether for the living or for the dead, not as a price but as a means of livelihood; and the same purpose is fulfilled when alms are received for making processions in funerals. Yet it is simoniacal to do such things by contract, or with the intention of buying or selling. Hence it would be an unlawful ordinance if it were decreed in any church that no procession would take place at a funeral unless a certain sum of money were paid, because such an ordinance would preclude the free granting of pious offices to any person. The ordinance would be more in keeping with the law, if it were decreed that this honor would be accorded to all who gave a certain alms, because this would not preclude its being granted to others. Moreover, the former ordinance has the appearance of an exaction, whereas the latter bears a likeness to a gratuitous remuneration.

Reply to Objection 3. A person to whom a spiritual power is entrusted is bound by virtue of his office to exercise the power entrusted to him in dispensing spiritual things. Moreover, he receives a statutory payment from the funds of the Church as a means of livelihood. Therefore, if he were to accept anything for the exercise of his spiritual power, this would imply, not a hiring of his labor (which he is bound to give, as a duty arising out of the office he has accepted), but a sale of the very use of a spiritual grace. For this reason it is unlawful for him to receive anything for any dispensing whatever, or for allowing someone else to take his duty, or for correcting his subjects, or for omitting to correct them. On the other hand it is lawful for him to receive "procurations," when he visits his subjects, not as a price for correcting them, but as a means of livelihood. He that is possessed of science, without having taken upon himself the obligation of using it for the benefit of others can lawfully receive a price for his learning or advice, since this is not a sale of truth or science, but a hiring of labor. If, on the other hand, he be so bound by virtue of his office, this would amount to a sale of the truth, and consequently he would sin grievously. For instance, those who in certain churches are appointed to instruct the clerics of that church and other poor persons, and are in receipt of an ecclesiastical benefice for so doing, are not allowed to receive anything in return, either for teaching, or for celebrating or omitting any feasts.

Reply to Objection 4. It is unlawful to exact or receive anything as price for entering a monastery: but, in the case of small monasteries, that are unable to support so many persons, it is lawful, while entrance to the monastery is free, to accept something for the support of those who are about to be received into the monastery, if its revenues are insufficient. On like manner it is lawful to be easier in admitting to a monastery a person who has proved his regard for that monastery by the generosity of his alms: just as, on the other hand, it is lawful to incite a person's regard for a monastery by means of temporal benefits, in order that he may thereby be induced to enter the monastery; although it is unlawful to agree to give or receive something for entrance into a monastery (I, qu. ii, cap. Quam pio).

Footnotes

49 Cf. ⇒ Lk 4:9[ETML:C/].
50 ⇒ Deut 6:16.
51 Cf. ⇒ 1 Cor 10:9; ⇒ Ex 17:2-7; ⇒ Ps 95:9.
52 Cf. ⇒ CIC, cann. 1367; ⇒ 1376.
53 Cf. ⇒ Acts 8:9-24.
54 ⇒ Acts 8:20.
55 ⇒ Mt 10:8; cf. already ⇒ Isa 55:1.
56 ⇒ CIC, can. 848.
57 ⇒ Mt 10:10; cf. ⇒ Lk 10:7; ⇒ 2 Cor 9:5-18; ⇒ 1 Tim 5:17-18.



Year of Faith Catechism Study: CCC 2110-2117, 2138 – Sins Against the First Commandment

clock June 22, 2013 01:02 by author John |

Today’s Catechism sections discuss sins against the first commandment. Supporting material comes from the “Summa Theologica”.

III. "You Shall Have No Other Gods Before Me"

2110 The first commandment forbids honoring gods other than the one Lord who has revealed himself to his people. It proscribes superstition and irreligion. Superstition in some sense represents a perverse excess of religion; irreligion is the vice contrary by defect to the virtue of religion.

Superstition

2111 Superstition is the deviation of religious feeling and of the practices this feeling imposes. It can even affect the worship we offer the true God, e.g., when one attributes an importance in some way magical to certain practices otherwise lawful or necessary. To attribute the efficacy of prayers or of sacramental signs to their mere external performance, apart from the interior dispositions that they demand, is to fall into superstition.41

Idolatry

2112 The first commandment condemns polytheism. It requires man neither to believe in, nor to venerate, other divinities than the one true God. Scripture constantly recalls this rejection of "idols, (of) silver and gold, the work of men's hands. They have mouths, but do not speak; eyes, but do not see." These empty idols make their worshippers empty: "Those who make them are like them; so are all who trust in them."42 God, however, is the "living God"43 who gives life and intervenes in history.

2113 Idolatry not only refers to false pagan worship. It remains a constant temptation to faith. Idolatry consists in divinizing what is not God. Man commits idolatry whenever he honors and reveres a creature in place of God, whether this be gods or demons (for example, satanism), power, pleasure, race, ancestors, the state, money, etc. Jesus says, "You cannot serve God and mammon."44 Many martyrs died for not adoring "the Beast"45 refusing even to simulate such worship. Idolatry rejects the unique Lordship of God; it is therefore incompatible with communion with God.46

2114 Human life finds its unity in the adoration of the one God. The commandment to worship the Lord alone integrates man and saves him from an endless disintegration. Idolatry is a perversion of man's innate religious sense. An idolater is someone who "transfers his indestructible notion of God to anything other than God."47

Divination and magic

2115 God can reveal the future to his prophets or to other saints. Still, a sound Christian attitude consists in putting oneself confidently into the hands of Providence for whatever concerns the future, and giving up all unhealthy curiosity about it. Improvidence, however, can constitute a lack of responsibility.

2116 All forms of divination are to be rejected: recourse to Satan or demons, conjuring up the dead or other practices falsely supposed to "unveil" the future.48 Consulting horoscopes, astrology, palm reading, interpretation of omens and lots, the phenomena of clairvoyance, and recourse to mediums all conceal a desire for power over time, history, and, in the last analysis, other human beings, as well as a wish to conciliate hidden powers. They contradict the honor, respect, and loving fear that we owe to God alone.

2117 All practices of magic or sorcery, by which one attempts to tame occult powers, so as to place them at one's service and have a supernatural power over others - even if this were for the sake of restoring their health - are gravely contrary to the virtue of religion. These practices are even more to be condemned when accompanied by the intention of harming someone, or when they have recourse to the intervention of demons. Wearing charms is also reprehensible. Spiritism often implies divination or magical practices; the Church for her part warns the faithful against it. Recourse to so-called traditional cures does not justify either the invocation of evil powers or the exploitation of another's credulity.

IN BRIEF

2138 Superstition is a departure from the worship that we give to the true God. It is manifested in idolatry, as well as in various forms of divination and magic.

St. Thomas Aquinas discusses the sin of superstition in the “Summa Theologica” (Secunda Secundæ Partis , 92, 1).

Article 1. Whether superstition is a vice contrary to religion?

Objection 1. It would seem that superstition is not a vice contrary to religion. One contrary is not included in the definition of the other.

But religion is included in the definition of superstition: for the latter is defined as being "immoderate observance of religion," according to a gloss on Colossians 2:23, "Which things have indeed a show of wisdom in superstition." Therefore superstition is not a vice contrary to religion.

Objection 2. Further, Isidore says (Etym. x): "Cicero [De Natura Deorum ii, 28 states that the superstitious were so called because they spent the day in prayingand offering sacrifices that their children might survive [superstites] them." But this may be done even in accordance with true religious worship. Thereforesuperstition is not a vice opposed to religion.

Objection 3. Further, superstition seems to denote an excess. But religion admits of no excess, since, as stated above (81, 5, ad 3), there is no possibility of rendering to God, by religion, the equal of what we owe Him. Therefore superstition is not a vice contrary to religion.

On the contrary, Augustine says (De Decem Chord. Serm. ix): "Thou strikest the first chord in the worship of one God, and the beast of superstition hath fallen." Now the worship of one God belongs to religion. Therefore superstition is contrary to religion.

I answer that, As stated above (Question 81, Article 5), religion is a moral virtue. Now every moral virtue observes a mean, as stated above (I-II, 64, 1). Therefore a twofold vice is opposed to a moral virtue. One by way of excess, the other by way of deficiency. Again, the mean of virtue may be exceeded, not only with regard to the circumstance called "how much," but also with regard to other circumstances: so that, in certain virtues such as magnanimity and magnificence; vice exceeds the mean of virtue, not through tending to something greater than the virtue, but possibly to something less, and yet it goes beyond the mean of virtue, through doing something to whom it ought not, or when it ought not, and in like manner as regards other circumstances, as the Philosophershows (Ethic. iv, 1,2,3).

Accordingly superstition is a vice contrary to religion by excess, not that it offers more to the divine worship than true religion, but because it offers divineworship either to whom it ought not, or in a manner it ought not.

Reply to Objection 1. Just as we speak metaphorically of good among evil things--thus we speak of a good thief--so too sometimes the names of the virtues are employed by transposition in an evil sense. Thus prudence is sometimes used instead of cunning, according to Luke 16:8, "The children of this world are moreprudent [Douay: 'wiser'] in their generation than the children of light." It is in this way that superstition is described as religion.

Reply to Objection 2. The etymology of a word differs from its meaning. For its etymology depends on what it is taken from for the purpose of signification: whereas its meaning depends on the thing to which it is applied for the purpose of signifying it. Now these things differ sometimes: for "lapis" [a stone] takes its name from hurting the foot [laedere pedem], but this is not its meaning, else iron, since it hurts the foot, would be a stone. On like manner it does not follow that "superstition" means that from which the word is derived.

Reply to Objection 3. Religion does not admit of excess, in respect of absolute quantity, but it does admit of excess in respect of proportionate quantity, in so far, to wit, as something may be done in divine worship that ought not to be done.

Footnotes

41 Cf. ⇒ Mt 23:16-22.
42 ⇒ Ps 115:4-5, 8; cf. ⇒ Isa 44:9-20; ⇒ Jer 10:1-16; ⇒ Dan 14:1-30; ⇒ Bar 6; ⇒ Wis 13: 1- ⇒ 15:19.
43 ⇒ Josh 3:10; ⇒ Ps 42:3; etc.
44 ⇒ Mt 6:24.
45 Cf. ⇒ Rev 13-⇒ 14.
46 Cf. ⇒ Gal 5:20; ⇒ Eph 5:5.
47 Origen, Contra Celsum 2, 40: PG 11, 861.
48 Cf. ⇒ Deut 18:10; ⇒ Jer 29:8.



Year of Faith Catechism Study: CCC 2101-2109, 2135-2137 – Promises, Vows, Social Duty, and Religious Freedom

clock June 21, 2013 01:02 by author John |

Today’s Catechism sections discuss promises, vows, social duty, and religious freedom. Supporting material comes from the encyclical, “Dignitatis Humanae”.

Promises and vows

2101 In many circumstances, the Christian is called to make promises to God. Baptism and Confirmation, Matrimony and Holy Orders always entail promises. Out of personal devotion, the Christian may also promise to God this action, that prayer, this alms-giving, that pilgrimage, and so forth. Fidelity to promises made to God is a sign of the respect owed to the divine majesty and of love for a faithful God.

2102 "A vow is a deliberate and free promise made to God concerning a possible and better good which must be fulfilled by reason of the virtue of religion,"21 A vow is an act of devotion in which the Christian dedicates himself to God or promises him some good work. By fulfilling his vows he renders to God what has been promised and consecrated to Him. The Acts of the Apostles shows us St. Paul concerned to fulfill the vows he had made.22

2103 The Church recognizes an exemplary value in the vows to practice the evangelical counsels:23

Mother Church rejoices that she has within herself many men and women who pursue the Savior's self-emptying more closely and show it forth more clearly, by undertaking poverty with the freedom of the children of God, and renouncing their own will: they submit themselves to man for the sake of God, thus going beyond what is of precept in the matter of perfection, so as to conform themselves more fully to the obedient Christ.24

The Church can, in certain cases and for proportionate reasons, dispense from vows and promises25

The social duty of religion and the right to religious freedom

2104 "All men are bound to seek the truth, especially in what concerns God and his Church, and to embrace it and hold on to it as they come to know it."26 This duty derives from "the very dignity of the human person."27 It does not contradict a "sincere respect" for different religions which frequently "reflect a ray of that truth which enlightens all men,"28 nor the requirement of charity, which urges Christians "to treat with love, prudence and patience those who are in error or ignorance with regard to the faith."29

2105 The duty of offering God genuine worship concerns man both individually and socially. This is "the traditional Catholic teaching on the moral duty of individuals and societies toward the true religion and the one Church of Christ."30 By constantly evangelizing men, the Church works toward enabling them "to infuse the Christian spirit into the mentality and mores, laws and structures of the communities in which [they] live."31 The social duty of Christians is to respect and awaken in each man the love of the true and the good. It requires them to make known the worship of the one true religion which subsists in the Catholic and apostolic Church.32 Christians are called to be the light of the world. Thus, the Church shows forth the kingship of Christ over all creation and in particular over human societies.33

2106 "Nobody may be forced to act against his convictions, nor is anyone to be restrained from acting in accordance with his conscience in religious matters in private or in public, alone or in association with others, within due limits."34 This right is based on the very nature of the human person, whose dignity enables him freely to assent to the divine truth which transcends the temporal order. For this reason it "continues to exist even in those who do not live up to their obligation of seeking the truth and adhering to it."35

2107 "If because of the circumstances of a particular people special civil recognition is given to one religious community in the constitutional organization of a state, the right of all citizens and religious communities to religious freedom must be recognized and respected as well."36

2108 The right to religious liberty is neither a moral license to adhere to error, nor a supposed right to error,37 but rather a natural right of the human person to civil liberty, i.e., immunity, within just limits, from external constraint in religious matters by political authorities. This natural right ought to be acknowledged in the juridical order of society in such a way that it constitutes a civil right.38

2109 The right to religious liberty can of itself be neither unlimited nor limited only by a "public order" conceived in a positivist or naturalist manner.39 The "due limits" which are inherent in it must be determined for each social situation by political prudence, according to the requirements of the common good, and ratified by the civil authority in accordance with "legal principles which are in conformity with the objective moral order."40

IN BRIEF

2135 "You shall worship the Lord your God" (⇒ Mt 4:10). Adoring God, praying to him, offering him the worship that belongs to him, fulfilling the promises and vows made to him are acts of the virtue of religion which fall under obedience to the first commandment.

2136 The duty to offer God authentic worship concerns man both as an individual and as a social being.

2137 "Men of the present day want to profess their religion freely in private and in public" (DH 15).

In his encyclical, “Dignitatis Humanae” (15), Pope Paul VI discusses the need for religious freedom.

15. The fact is that men of the present day want to be able freely to profess their religion in private and in public. Indeed, religious freedom has already been declared to be a civil right in most constitutions, and it is solemnly recognized in international documents.(38) The further fact is that forms of government still exist under which, even though freedom of religious worship receives constitutional recognition, the powers of government are engaged in the effort to deter citizens from the profession of religion and to make life very difficult and dangerous for religious communities.

This council greets with joy the first of these two facts as among the signs of the times. With sorrow, however, it denounces the other fact, as only to be deplored. The council exhorts Catholics, and it directs a plea to all men, most carefully to consider how greatly necessary religious freedom is, especially in the present condition of the human family. All nations are coming into even closer unity. Men of different cultures and religions are being brought together in closer relationships. There is a growing consciousness of the personal responsibility that every man has. All this is evident. Consequently, in order that relationships of peace and harmony be established and maintained within the whole of mankind, it is necessary that religious freedom be everywhere provided with an effective constitutional guarantee and that respect be shown for the high duty and right of man freely to lead his religious life in society.

Footnotes

21 ⇒ CIC, can. 1191 # 1.
22 Cf. ⇒ Acts 18:18; ⇒ 21:23-24.
23 Cf. ⇒ CIC, can. 654.
24 LG 42 # 2.
25 Cf. ⇒ CIC, cann. 692; ⇒ 1196-1197.
26 DH 1 # 2.
27 DH 2 # 1.
28 NA 2 # 2.
29 DH 14 # 4.
30 DH 1 # 3.
31 AA 13 # 1.
32 Cf. DH 1.
33 Cf. AA 13; Leo XIII, Immortale Dei 3, 17; Pius XI, Quas primas 8, 20.
34 DH 2 # 1.
35 DH 2 # 2.
36 DH 6 # 3.
37 Cf. Leo XIII, Libertas praestantissimum 18; Pius XII AAS 1953, 799.
38 Cf. DH 2.
39 Cf. Pius VI, Quod aliquantum (1791) 10; Pius IX, Quanta cura 3.
40 DH 7 # 3.



Year of Faith Catechism Study: CCC 2095-2100 – Adoration, Prayer and Sacrifice

clock June 20, 2013 01:02 by author John |

Today’s Catechism sections discuss adoration, prayer, and sacrifice in relation to the first commandment. Supporting material comes from St. Augustine’s “City of God”.

II. "Him Only Shall You Serve"

2095 The theological virtues of faith, hope, and charity inform and give life to the moral virtues. Thus charity leads us to render to God what we as creatures owe him in all justice. The virtue of religion disposes us to have this attitude.

Adoration

2096 Adoration is the first act of the virtue of religion. To adore God is to acknowledge him as God, as the Creator and Savior, the Lord and Master of everything that exists, as infinite and merciful Love. "You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve," says Jesus, citing Deuteronomy.13

2097 To adore God is to acknowledge, in respect and absolute submission, the "nothingness of the creature" who would not exist but for God. To adore God is to praise and exalt him and to humble oneself, as Mary did in the Magnificat, confessing with gratitude that he has done great things and holy is his name.14 The worship of the one God sets man free from turning in on himself, from the slavery of sin and the idolatry of the world.

Prayer

2098 The acts of faith, hope, and charity enjoined by the first commandment are accomplished in prayer. Lifting up the mind toward God is an expression of our adoration of God: prayer of praise and thanksgiving, intercession and petition. Prayer is an indispensable condition for being able to obey God's commandments. " (We) ought always to pray and not lose heart."15

Sacrifice

2099 It is right to offer sacrifice to God as a sign of adoration and gratitude, supplication and communion: "Every action done so as to cling to God in communion of holiness, and thus achieve blessedness, is a true sacrifice."16

2100 Outward sacrifice, to be genuine, must be the expression of spiritual sacrifice: "The sacrifice acceptable to God is a broken spirit...."17 The prophets of the Old Covenant often denounced sacrifices that were not from the heart or not coupled with love of neighbor.18 Jesus recalls the words of the prophet Hosea: "I desire mercy, and not sacrifice."19 The only perfect sacrifice is the one that Christ offered on the cross as a total offering to the Father's love and for our salvation.20 By uniting ourselves with his sacrifice we can make our lives a sacrifice to God.

St. Augustine discusses sacrifice in “City of God” (10, 6).

Chapter 6.— Of the True and Perfect Sacrifice.

Thus a true sacrifice is every work which is done that we may be united to God in holy fellowship, and which has a reference to that supreme good and end in which alone we can be truly blessed. And therefore even the mercy we show to men, if it is not shown for God's sake, is not a sacrifice. For, though made or offered by man, sacrifice is a divine thing, as those who called it sacrifice meant to indicate. Thus man himself, consecrated in the name of God, and vowed to God, is a sacrifice in so far as he dies to the world that he may live to God. For this is a part of that mercy which each man shows to himself; as it is written, Have mercy on your soul by pleasing God. Sirach 30:24 Our body, too, as a sacrifice when we chasten it by temperance, if we do so as we ought, for God's sake, that we may not yield our members instruments of unrighteousness unto sin, but instruments of righteousness unto God. Romans 6:13 Exhorting to this sacrifice, the apostle says, I beseech you, therefore, brethren, by the mercy of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. Romans 12:1 If, then, the body, which, being inferior, the soul uses as a servant or instrument, is a sacrifice when it is used rightly, and with reference to God, how much more does the soul itself become a sacrifice when it offers itself to God, in order that, being inflamed by the fire of His love, it may receive of His beauty and become pleasing to Him, losing the shape of earthly desire, and being remoulded in the image of permanent loveliness? And this, indeed, the apostle subjoins, saying, And be not conformed to this world; but be transformed in the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God. Romans 12:2 Since, therefore, true sacrifices are works of mercy to ourselves or others, done with a reference to God, and since works of mercy have no other object than the relief of distress or the conferring of happiness, and since there is no happiness apart from that good of which it is said, It is good for me to be very near to God, it follows that the whole redeemed city, that is to say, the congregation or community of the saints, is offered to God as our sacrifice through the great High Priest, who offered Himself to God in His passion for us, that we might be members of this glorious head, according to the form of a servant. For it was this form He offered, in this He was offered, because it is according to it He is Mediator, in this He is our Priest, in this the Sacrifice. Accordingly, when the apostle had exhorted us to present our bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, our reasonable service, and not to be conformed to the world, but to be transformed in the renewing of our mind, that we might prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God, that is to say, the true sacrifice of ourselves, he says, For I say, through the grace of God which is given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, according as God has dealt to every man the measure of faith. For, as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another, having gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us. Romans 12:3-6 This is the sacrifice of Christians: we, being many, are one body in Christ. And this also is the sacrifice which the Church continually celebrates in the sacrament of the altar, known to the faithful, in which she teaches that she herself is offered in the offering she makes to God.

Footnotes

13 ⇒ Lk 4:8; Cf. ⇒ Deut 6:13.
14 Cf. ⇒ Lk 1:46-49.
15 ⇒ Lk 18:1.
16 St. Augustine, De civ Dei 10, 6 PL 41, 283.
17 ⇒ PS 51:17.
18 Cf. ⇒ Am 5:21-25; ⇒ Isa 1:10-20.
19 ⇒ Mt 9:13; ⇒ 12:7; Cf. ⇒ Hos 6:6.
20 Cf. ⇒ Heb 9:13-14.



Year of Faith Catechism Study: CCC 2087-2093 – The First Commandment and the Theological Virtues

clock June 19, 2013 01:02 by author John |

Today’s Catechism sections discuss the first commandment and the Theological Virtues. Supporting material comes from the “Summa Theologica”.

Faith

2087 Our moral life has its source in faith in God who reveals his love to us. St. Paul speaks of the "obedience of faith"9 as our first obligation. He shows that "ignorance of God" is the principle and explanation of all moral deviations.10 Our duty toward God is to believe in him and to bear witness to him.

2088 The first commandment requires us to nourish and protect our faith with prudence and vigilance, and to reject everything that is opposed to it. There are various ways of sinning against faith:
Voluntary doubt about the faith disregards or refuses to hold as true what God has revealed and the Church proposes for belief. Involuntary doubt refers to hesitation in believing, difficulty in overcoming objections connected with the faith, or also anxiety aroused by its obscurity. If deliberately cultivated doubt can lead to spiritual blindness.

2089 Incredulity is the neglect of revealed truth or the willful refusal to assent to it. "Heresy is the obstinate post-baptismal denial of some truth which must be believed with divine and catholic faith, or it is likewise an obstinate doubt concerning the same; apostasy is the total repudiation of the Christian faith; schism is the refusal of submission to the Roman Pontiff or of communion with the members of the Church subject to him."11

Hope

2090 When God reveals Himself and calls him, man cannot fully respond to the divine love by his own powers. He must hope that God will give him the capacity to love Him in return and to act in conformity with the commandments of charity. Hope is the confident expectation of divine blessing and the beatific vision of God; it is also the fear of offending God's love and of incurring punishment.

2091 The first commandment is also concerned with sins against hope, namely, despair and presumption:
By despair, man ceases to hope for his personal salvation from God, for help in attaining it or for the forgiveness of his sins. Despair is contrary to God's goodness, to his justice - for the Lord is faithful to his promises - and to his mercy.

2092 There are two kinds of presumption. Either man presumes upon his own capacities, (hoping to be able to save himself without help from on high), or he presumes upon God's almighty power or his mercy (hoping to obtain his forgiveness without conversion and glory without merit).

Charity

2093 Faith in God's love encompasses the call and the obligation to respond with sincere love to divine charity. The first commandment enjoins us to love God above everything and all creatures for him and because of him.12

2094 One can sin against God's love in various ways:
- indifference neglects or refuses to reflect on divine charity; it fails to consider its prevenient goodness and denies its power.
- Ingratitude fails or refuses to acknowledge divine charity and to return him love for love.
- lukewarmness is hesitation or negligence in responding to divine love; it can imply refusal to give oneself over to the prompting of charity.
- acedia or spiritual sloth goes so far as to refuse the joy that comes from God and to be repelled by divine goodness.
- hatred of God comes from pride. It is contrary to love of God, whose goodness it denies, and whom it presumes to curse as the one who forbids sins and inflicts punishments.

In the “Summa Theologica” (Secunda Secundæ Partis, 130, 1), St. Thomas Aquinas discusses the sin of presumption.

Article 1. Whether presumption is a sin?

Objection 1. It seems that presumption is not a sin. For the Apostle says: "Forgetting the things that are behind, I stretch forth [Vulgate: 'and stretching forth'] myself to those that are before." But it seems to savor of presumption that one should tend to what is above oneself. Therefore presumption is not a sin.

Objection 2. Further, the Philosopher says (Ethic. i, 7) "we should not listen to those who would persuade us to relish human things because we are men, or mortal things because we are mortal, but we should relish those that make us immortal": and (Metaph. i) "that man should pursue divine things as far as possible." Now divine and immortal things are seemingly far above man. Since then presumption consists essentially in tending to what is above oneself, it seems that presumption is something praiseworthy, rather than a sin.

Objection 3. Further, the Apostle says (2 Corinthians 3:5): "Not that we are sufficient to think anything of ourselves, as of ourselves." If then presumption, by which one strives at that for which one is not sufficient, be a sin, it seems that man cannot lawfully even think of anything good: which is absurd. Therefore presumption is not a sin.

On the contrary, It is written (Sirach 37:3): "O wicked presumption, whence camest thou?" and a gloss answers: "From a creature's evil will." Now all that comes of the root of an evil will is a sin. Therefore presumption is a sin.

I answer that, Since whatever is according to nature, is ordered by the Divine Reason, which human reason ought to imitate, whatever is done in accordance with human reason in opposition to the order established in general throughout natural things is vicious and sinful. Now it is established throughout all natural things, that every action is commensurate with the power of the agent, nor does any natural agent strive to do what exceeds its ability. Hence it is vicious and sinful, as being contrary to the natural order, that any one should assume to do what is above his power: and this is what is meant by presumption, as its very name shows. Wherefore it is evident that presumption is a sin.

Reply to Objection 1. Nothing hinders that which is above the active power of a natural thing, and yet not above the passive power of that same thing: thus the air is possessed of a passive power by reason of which it can be so changed as to obtain the action and movement of fire, which surpass the active power of air. Thus too it would be sinful and presumptuous for a man while in a state of imperfect virtue to attempt the immediate accomplishment of what belongs to perfect virtue. But it is not presumptuous or sinful for a man to endeavor to advance towards perfect virtue. On this way the Apostle stretched himself forth to the things that were before him, namely continually advancing forward.

Reply to Objection 2. Divine and immortal things surpass man according to the order of nature. Yet man is possessed of a natural power, namely the intellect, whereby he can be united to immortal and Divine things. On this respect the Philosopher says that "man ought to pursue immortal and divine things," not that he should do what it becomes God to do, but that he should be united to Him in intellect and will.

Reply to Objection 3. As the Philosopher says (Ethic. iii, 3), "what we can do by the help of others we can do by ourselves in a sense." Hence since we can think and do good by the help of God, this is not altogether above our ability. Hence it is not presumptuous for a man to attempt the accomplishment of a virtuous deed: but it would be presumptuous if one were to make the attempt without confidence in God's assistance.

Footnotes

9 ⇒ Rom 1:5; ⇒ 16:26.
10 Cf. ⇒ Rom 1:18-32.
11 ⇒ CIC, can. 751: emphasis added.
12 Cf. ⇒ Deut 6:4-5.



Year of Faith Catechism Study: CCC 2083-2086, 2133-2134 – The First Commandment

clock June 18, 2013 01:02 by author John |

Today’s Catechism sections begin the discussion on the first commandment. Supporting material comes from St. John Chrysostom’s “Homily 71 on Matthew”.

CHAPTER ONE

YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND

2083 Jesus summed up man's duties toward God in this saying: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind."1 This immediately echoes the solemn call: "Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God is one LORD."2
God has loved us first. the love of the One God is recalled in the first of the "ten words." the commandments then make explicit the response of love that man is called to give to his God.

Article 1

THE FIRST COMMANDMENT

I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a graven image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them or serve them.3
It is written: "You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve."4

I. "You Shall Worship the Lord Your God and Him Only Shall You Serve"

2084 God makes himself known by recalling his all-powerful loving, and liberating action in the history of the one he addresses: "I brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage." the first word contains the first commandment of the Law: "You shall fear the LORD your God; you shall serve him.... You shall not go after other gods."5 God's first call and just demand is that man accept him and worship him.

2085 The one and true God first reveals his glory to Israel.6 The revelation of the vocation and truth of man is linked to the revelation of God. Man's vocation is to make God manifest by acting in conformity with his creation "in the image and likeness of God":

There will never be another God, Trypho, and there has been no other since the world began . . . than he who made and ordered the universe. We do not think that our God is different from yours. He is the same who brought your fathers out of Egypt "by his powerful hand and his outstretched arm." We do not place our hope in some other god, for there is none, but in the same God as you do: the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.7

2086 "The first commandment embraces faith, hope, and charity. When we say 'God' we confess a constant, unchangeable being, always the same, faithful and just, without any evil. It follows that we must necessarily accept his words and have complete faith in him and acknowledge his authority. He is almighty, merciful, and infinitely beneficent. Who could not place all hope in him? Who could not love him when contemplating the treasures of goodness and love he has poured out on us? Hence the formula God employs in the Scripture at the beginning and end of his commandments: 'I am the LORD.'"8

IN BRIEF

2133 "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your strength" (⇒ Deut 6:5).

2134 The first commandment summons man to believe in God, to hope in him, and to love him above all else.

St. John Chrysostom in his “Homily 71 on Matthew” discusses the first commandment.

For since the first commandment was this, You shall love the Lord your God, thinking that He would afford them some handle, as though He would amend it, for the sake of showing that Himself too was God, they propose the question. What then says Christ? Indicating from what they were led to this; from having no charity, from pining with envy, from being seized by jealousy, He says, You shall love the Lord your God. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like this, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. Matthew 22:37-39

But wherefore like this? Because this makes the way for that, and by it is again established; For every one that does evil hates the light, neither comes to the light; John 3:20 and again, The fool has said in his heart, There is no God. And what in consequence of this? They are corrupt, and become abominable in their ways. And again, The love of money is the root of all evils; which while some coveted after they have erred from the faith; 1 Timothy 6:10 and, He that loves me, will keep my commandment.

But His commandments, and the sum of them, are, You shall love the Lord your God, and your neighbor as yourself. If therefore to love God is to love one's neighbor, For if you love me, He says, O Peter, feed my sheep, John 21:16-17 but to love one's neighbor works a keeping of the commandments, with reason does He say, On these hang all the law and the prophets. Matthew 22:40

Footnotes

1 ⇒ Mt 22:37; cf. ⇒ Lk 10:27:". . . and with all your strength."
2 ⇒ Deut 6:4.
3 ⇒ Ex 20:2-5; cf. ⇒ Deut 5:6-9.
4 ⇒ Mt 4:10.
5 ⇒ Deut 6:13-14.
6 Cf. ⇒ Ex 19:16-25; ⇒ 24:15-18.
7 St. Justin, Dial. cum Tryphone Judaeo 11, 1: PG 6, 497.
8 Roman Catechism 3, 2,4.